Play Hard

Box set bingeing: the rules to live by…

TV watching has transformed from tuning in to once a week to losing a whole day to the latest Netflix drop.

Written by High Life North
Published 21.02.2020

By Jo Dunbar

Box set bingeing has brought with it a whole code of behaviour…

While bigwigs in Westminster tussle over the future of the BBC licence fee, closer to home our own habits reflect that ‘watching the telly’ no longer means switching on to watch a terrestrial channel, something live or waiting for the next episode.

10 million binge-watchers (as counted by the Office for National Statistics) in the UK reflect that our entertainment consumption is now governed by box sets, downloads and streaming services but with so much choice to pick from, where do you start?

Fans of grisly murder documentaries have plenty to choose from with Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann just two of the popular true crime documentaries available to watch.

For fans of high-level thespian action, original dramas like The Marriage Story by Netflix and the unsurpassable ongoing series The Crown boasts legions of acting talent.

If deciding what to watch wasn’t taxing enough, box set bingeing has brought with it a whole code of behaviour for audiences to follow…

Conversation starter

A few years back, ‘What are you watching on telly?’ would have been seen as a conversational no-no. Not now. We’re all after some recommendations about the
latest box set to begin and get hooked on.

Guilty pleasures are allowed

I’m talking The Bold Type and YOU. Basically, shows you can watch mindlessly and that don’t leave you feeling more knowledgeable, or scared witless.


It’s okay to press pause and never go back. Personally, season six of Orange is the New Black was the tipping point for me.

Subscription dilemmas

Staying in never cost so much! You will spend a fortune on streaming services: devoted to Amazon Prime? Well, wait ’til a Netflix original comes along. Oh, but then Apple TV launched The Morning Show starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon so…

Rules of engagement

It may be unspoken on your sofa, but the silent rule of box set consumption is if you begin together, end it together. Skip ahead and you risk causing major ructions.

High Life North’s pick of the best box sets:

YOU: Penn Badgley as creepy yet genius professional stalker Joe (or Will).

The Handmaid’s Tale: If you didn’t catch the Hulu hit starring Elisabeth Moss on Channel 4 then download it now. Under his eye.

Chernobyl: Sky Atlantic delivered this well-received dramatisation of the nuclear disaster. Starring Jared Harris and Emily Watson.

Cheer: Engaging behind the scenes look at cheerleader culture – more than backflips and pom-poms.

COBRA: Sky’s fast-paced political drama sees inside the emergency cabinet meetings when whole sections of the UK lose power with devastating and dramatic
effects. Stars: Robert Carlyle; Victoria Hamilton.

Night on Earth: Attenborough affiliates will love this compelling look at wildlife by night.

Unbelievable: Netflix drama-documentary starring Toni Collette and Merritt Wever as two detectives trying to track down a serial rapist.

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